It Takes A Village

Girls helping each other adjusting their head wraps
Girls helping each other adjusting their head wraps

**Quick note: Lesotho- the country  Sesotho- the language  Basotho- the people  Mosotho- a person**

At the end of April my school had a cultural day. That morning, I donned my seshoeshoe (traditional dress), a blanket , and a hat and headed off to school for the day’s festivities. Sadly I have no picture but be assured I rocked the look.

Living in Lesotho I do not have to wait for a specific day to be immersed in the culture there. I did not have to wait till I arrived at school to be warmed by the Basotho ways. As I said, I was wearing a blanket which is part of the everyday outfits of most mosotho. Now that it’s getting colder I love that blankets are part of an outfit. Ever woken up on a cold morning wishing you could just take your blanket with you and wear it all day? In Lesotho you can and are expected to. To be clear the blankets worn are different from blankets used as bedding but I may occasionally break that rule and use my blanket on my bed too.

Anyway, back to cultural day. I had never actually worn my blanket before and was missing a key accessory, the giant safety pin used to pin the blanket around you. I was not going to let my lack of pin stop me from wearing a blanket all day so I just draped it around my shoulders and held in place with my hands. As I went down the road to my school I heard someone call out, “Ausi Lerato, ema hanyane!” (Wait up Lerato). I stopped and a ‘M’e ran into her house and quickly returned coming down the hill to me holding out a giant safety pin. She helped me pin my blanket around me before sending me on my way. 

The culture of Lesotho is a community culture. People help each other out, always. When walking through my village I greet everyone I see and they greet me. When I am at the water pump with other bo-‘m’e I am usally unable to pump water beacuse they will step up and pump for me. Children in the village seemingly run free and unsupervised but they are really watched over by everyone. Being alone in your house (as I often am) can seem strange to people because if they are not working they are together with other people. I can’t walk from my house to the road without being asked multiple times “Where are you going?”  And these are just a few examples. At times it can get annoying or seem intrusive but I just remember it’s just how people interact, they are just checking in and welcoming me as a member of the community. 

So, no, I do not need a specific day to learn the Basotho culture, I interact with it daily and am always learning about it. But cultural day allowed me to celebrate it with my students and learn more about  traditional culture. Classes for the day were canceled and instead students helped showcase Basotho tradition through food, dress, and dancing. 

Sorghum and corn ready to be cooked
Sorghum and corn ready to be cooked

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The beginning of a long day of cooking
The beginning of a long day of cooking
Grade 4 girls doing a traditional dance. All grades did multiple traditional dances
Grade 4 girls doing a traditional dance. All grades did multiple traditional dances
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Grade 5 boys
Class 7 doing a short play
Class 7 doing a short play

It was great watching my students dance and sing and act. You could tell they were having a lot of fun. They all looked great in their traditional wear and they found me in traditional dress hilarious. I’ll have to wear it more often.

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  1. Dear Catie Had such good intentions of answering your most welcome Mountain Post right away, but even tho’ I have lots of time, I let it get away from me. Anyway, you are educating me about Lesotho and the experiences you are having there. Your folks are making changes in their lives and I am really for them. Changes in Carol’s and Greg’s lives also with Jeff graduating from college. So glad he has some life plans for the next couple years. And I know that Carly keeps in touch with you (better than your Grandma Catherine!) I have never gotten adept with the computer, my hand-writing leaves something to be desired

    -oh, let’s face it, I am GETTING old!! Lots of love, Grandma C;

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